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Zurek named fellow of American Physical Society

Eva Zurek.

UB theoretical chemist Eva Zurek has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published October 28, 2022


Eva Zurek, a UB theoretical and computational chemist, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS).

Zurek is a professor of chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, and an adjunct faculty member in physics and in chemical and biological engineering. Her research uses supercomputers and first-principles calculations to study the electronic structure, properties and reactivity of a wide variety of materials.

The APS is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through research journals, scientific meetings and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities.

According to the fellowship citation, Zurek is being recognized “for the application of forefront computational electronic structure methods to reveal microscopic processes occurring in large molecules and nanostructures, for the design of hydride superconductors, and for related educational innovations in computational science.”

She was recommended for the honor by the APS Division of Computational Physics. She was elected vice chair of the division in 2022, a four-year position that will later include terms as chair-elect, chair and past chair.

APS fellowship signifies recognition by one’s professional peers. Each year, no more than one half of 1% of the society’s membership (excluding student members) is recognized through election to the status of fellow of the APS.

Zurek’s work has had a broad impact on materials science and discovery. She is interested in high-pressure science; superhard, superconducting, quantum and planetary materials; catalysis; and solvated electrons and electrides. Her team developed an open-source computer program called XtalOpt that enables scientists to predict the crystal structures of materials, and used the program to identify new superconductor candidates.

The author of more than 160 publications, Zurek has received funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

She has served on the dissertation committee for more than 30 PhD candidates. Eight mentees have graduated with a PhD from her lab, with all securing employment or fellowships in their field.

Additionally, Zurek has committed time and energy to communicating science to the public. She has been interviewed by Scientific American; Science Friday, carried by public radio stations across the U.S.; CBC’s Quirks and Quarks; The New York Times; and many other outlets about advancements in materials discovery.

Zurek has received numerous honors, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Sloan Research Fellowship. She received her PhD from the University of Stuttgart in Germany.